Yesterday, President Obama outlined steps the federal government is taking to help farmers in drought-devasted areas:
Liz Goodwin of Yahoo! News: "As many as 1.76 million young illegal immigrants could qualify for temporary legal status under President Obama's deferred action program, says a new report from the Migration Policy Institute. That's more than double the Obama administration's initial estimate of 800,000 people who would benefit from the program. The new number reflects the Obama administration's updated guidelines released last Friday.... Initially, only young illegal immigrants under 30 who entered the country as children, graduated from high school and had no criminal record would make the cut. Now, young people who didn't graduate or receive their G.E.D. can still apply for the legal status as long as they re-enroll in high school by the time they apply."
Danielle Douglas & Joby Warrick of the Washington Post: "Regulators are catching flak for not acting sooner to stop banks that helped Iran flout U.S. sanctions. This week, the state of New York said London-based Standard Chartered Bank concealed $250 billion in Iranian transactions, violations that persisted for nearly a decade. A number of international banks, including Lloyds, Barclays and Credit Suisse engaged in similar behaviors, but it took years before regulators put their foot down. State and federal agencies routinely audit banks to ensure compliance with anti-money-laundering rules, but institutions continue to skirt the law. Critics say enforcement actions have fallen short of serving as a deterrent, especially since the punishments resulted in fines but no jail time." CW warning: this article is written in Classic Post He Said/He Said Script, but you might learn something anyway. ...
... Jessica Silver-Greenberg & Ben Protess of the New York Times: "Top executives at Standard Chartered said they were surprised when New York's banking regulator accused them on Monday of scheming with the Iranian government to launder billions of dollars to potentially support terrorist activities.... The regulatory order also stunned other authorities investigating the bank, namely officials at the Federal Reserve and the Justice Department...."
David Dayen of Firedoglake: "The Supreme Court justices have jurisdiction over various regions of the country when it comes to injunctions, particularly when it comes to stays of execution. In the case of Marvin Wilson, the mentally retarded man with an IQ of 61 and an intelligence level of a 6 year-old, set to die today* in Texas in conjunction with a murder conviction, that appeal had to go through none other than Justice Antonin Scalia. Justice Scalia wrote a dissent in the case of Atkins v. Virginia, which established the ban on executing the mentally retarded (Texas, like other states, got to set their own standards for what constitutes 'retarded,' and as such plowed ahead with the execution of Wilson today).... And so it should come as no surprise that [Scalia]" summarily denied the application for a stay of execution. CW: See also yesterday's News Ledes. ...
... Digby: "Why in the hell did they [the Supremes] leave it up to a bunch of blood thirsty yahoos to decide what "retarded" is? This is yet another triumph of our corrupt and immoral 'states' rights' doctrine for which the suppression of human rights and basic decency has been it's most lasting legacy."
Andrew Rosenthal writes an excellent post comparing the "paranoid ranting" of the NRA's Wayne LaPierre --
... LaPierre, said in his four-page plea for cash that President Obama's re-election would result in the 'confiscation' of weapons and a possible ban on semi-automatic weapons. 'The future of your Second Amendment rights will be at stake,' the letter said. 'And nothing less than the future of our country and our freedom will be at stake.' --
-- to what Obama has actually done about gun control -- "nothing" is a generous reading.
Evan McMorris-Santoro: "As Republicans continue trying to cash in on the out-of-context 'you didn't build that' attack on President Obama, the Obama campaign is assembling an army of small business owners who say that they did engineer their own success -- thanks to the opportunities afforded them by generations of American taxpayers."
Maureen Dowd: Barack Obama doesn't send thank-you notes.
Economist Brad DeLong provides a detailed takedown of the attempt by Romney's economic advisors to spin his economic plan.
The Priorities USA ad featuring steelworker Joe Soptic -- which I embedded in yesterday's Commentariat -- is somewhat fact-challenged. Although Soptic leaves the impression that his wife died "a short time" after he lost his job & health insurance because of a Bain takeover, that's not the case. Glenn Kessler of the Washington Post has the timeline & other details. Kessler doesn't assign any Pinocchios. But Soptic's Shakespearean compression is nothing like this --
Under Obama's plan (for welfare), you wouldn't have to work and wouldn't have to train for a job. They just send you your welfare check. -- Mitt Romney on Monday, August 6th, 2012 in a campaign ad
PolitiFact: "That's a drastic distortion of the planned [Obama administration] changes.... By granting waivers to states, the Obama administration is seeking to make welfare-to-work efforts more successful, not end them.... In fact..., the new policy is 'designed to improve employment outcomes for needy families.' The ad's claim is not accurate, and it inflames old resentments about able-bodied adults sitting around collecting public assistance."
Oliver Knox of Yahoo! News: "The White House denounced Mitt Romney's 'blatantly dishonest' charge that President Barack Obama is looking to 'gut welfare reform' enacted under Bill Clinton by erasing a requirement that recipients actively seek work. 'This advertisement is categorically false, and it is blatantly dishonest,' press secretary Jay Carney told reporters at his daily briefing."
AP: "Former President Bill Clinton is taking exception to a campaign ad by Mitt Romney that asserts that the Obama administration is weakening the work requirements for welfare. In a statement Tuesday night, Clinton called the Republican's assertion 'not true' and the ad misleading."
Greg Sargent: "... Mitt Romney has again put GOP governors in a delicate position, in which they are caught between the need to defend their own policies and the need to avoid saying anything that detracts from Romney's campaign message." The Repubican governors of Utah & Nevada -- who led the group of governors asking the Obama administration for flexibiity -- refused to tell reporters whether or not they agreed with Romney's ad. ...
... Greg Sargent: "... this ad is tantamount to claiming that Republican governors want to gut welfare reform and ensure that the government just sends people a 'welfare check.' ... For an election that's supposed to be all about the economy, the Romney campaign is suddenly leaning very hard on a more traditional politics of resentment right out of an older GOP playbook."
This was a lie too far for Steve Benen, who has been chronicling "Mitt's Mendacity" for 28 weeks: "... this is as dishonest an ad as you'll ever see -- in 2012 or in any other campaign cycle.... Romney's lying. He's not spinning the truth to his advantage; he's not hiding in a gray area between fact and fiction; he's just lying. The law hasn't been 'gutted'; the work requirement hasn't been 'dropped.' ... All Obama did is agree to Republican governors' request for flexibility.... What does it say about Romney's strength as a candidate that he has to make up garbage and hope voters don't know the difference? ... The language in the ad harkens back to the kind of ugly and racially divisive rhetoric we heard from GOP candidates for far too long." ...
... Steve Benen: "The president is giving states the option of experimenting with new welfare-to-work programs -- an option Romney used to support -- but work requirements remain intact.... Republican governors were the ones who asked for the flexibility to experiment, and Obama agreed. But if Romney and the GOP have decided to go nuclear on this..., the president can simply reverse course -- Republicans are against state flexibility and experimentation? Fine, no more state flexibility and experimentation."
"A Very Nasty Piece of Work." Ed Kilgore: "It's the old welfare-queen meme, which Republicans have already been regularly reviving in their attacks on the Affordable Care Act, on Medicaid, on food stamps, and in their much broader and horrifyingly invidious claims that poor and minority people deliberately taking out mortgages they knew they couldn't afford caused the whole housing market collapse and the financial crisis that followed."
Dana Milbank on the Italian Job: "Romney's larger problem with Bain and his personal income taxes: The question is not whether he did well, or whether he did it legally, but whether he did it with any sense of ethics.... Of ... concern is that, as president, Romney would further expand the advantages of fellow rich people. Romney encouraged that worry on Tuesday, when he announced at a campaign stop that he would be tough on welfare -- 'we will end the culture of dependency and restore a culture of good hard work' -- and then went to a pair of fundraisers where high-rolling donors paid as much as $75,000 for access to him.
Romney Really Hates to Pay Taxes. Robin Abcarian of the Los Angeles Times: "After paying cash for the Mediterranean-style house with 61 feet of beach frontage, [the Romneys] asked San Diego County for dramatic property tax relief [making] ... a months-long effort to reduce their annual property tax bill.... Initially, the Romneys asked that their 2009 assessment, $12.24 million, be reduced to $6.8 million, maintaining that their home had lost about 45% of its value in the first seven months they owned it. Thirteen months later, after hiring an attorney..., the Romneys filed an amended appeal, contending the home had suffered a less-dramatic fall of 27.3%, to $8.9 million. They also filed an appeal for the 2010 tax year, claiming the house had dropped further, to $7.5 million, 38.7% less than the home's assessed value. As a result, the Romneys have saved about $109,000 in property taxes over four years."
John Cassidy of the New Yorker: "... the Mittster is also going to have to ingratiate himself with the regular folk, something he's never been particularly adept at.... Romney is in grave danger of joining the list of money-rich candidates who ended up as roadkill."
The Neophyte Candidate. Noah Bierman of the Boston Globe: "Elizabeth Warren demanded Monday that Senator Scott Brown release more of his tax returns. The only problem was that Brown, her Republican rival, had already released six years of tax returns while Warren has refused to release more than four years of her filings. Asked to reconcile that apparent conflict, Warren backed off her demand, saying today that six years was enough. She did not, however, offer to release any more of her IRS filings." CW: I hope some of you of the "Warren for President" persuasion are beginning to understand why that was a bad idea.
God Is a Conservative Republican (And She Loves Todd Akin the Most). Tim O'Neil of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. "U.S. Rep. Todd Akin of Wildwood, [Missouri,] won the battle of conservatives for the Republican nomination to the U.S. Senate with a strong lead that held through the evening in statewide returns.... 'The first thing I would like to do is give thanks to God, our creator,' Akin said. 'Your prayers were answered with victory.'"
Right Wing World *
"America --' Watering Down' Voting Rights since 1776." Alec McGillis of The New Republic: RNC Chair "Reince Priebus sent out this tweet: 'We need to call out Obama for trying to water down the voting privileges of our military men and women in Ohio.' So, expanding voting rights generally -- which, let's face it, tends to favor Democrats -- 'waters down' the votes of a Republican-leaning constituency like the military? ... This seems like a case of accidental and illuminating candor, right up there with the Pennsylvania House majority leader who declared recently that his state's new Voter ID law would win the state for Mitt Romney.... Sort of like expanding the franchise to women 'watered down' the voting rights of men...."
* Where only Republicans have the franchise.
Washington Post: "In 118 years of U.S. records, July 2012 stands as king, hotter than any month previously observed. NOAA reports today that the average temperature across the continental U.S. was 3.3 degrees Fahrenheit warmer than the 20th century average, 0.2 degrees hotter than the previous record set in July, 1936."
New York Times: "Wade M. Page, the man who the police say shot and killed six people at a Sikh temple in Wisconsin this week, died from a self-inflicted gunshot wound, officials said on Wednesday. The authorities had reported earlier that he was fatally shot by a police officer. Mr. Page, 40, shot himself in the head after being struck by a bullet fired by an officer from the Oak Creek Police Department, said Teresa L. Carlson, a special agent with the Federal Bureau of Investigation. The bullet fired by the officer hit Mr. Page in the stomach, Ms. Carlson said."
Al Jazeera: "The Syrian army has launched a ground assault on the northern city of Aleppo, sparking fierce clashes with opposition fighters in the frontline district of Salaheddine."
AP: "The international security contractor formerly known as Blackwater has agreed to pay a $7.5 million fine to settle federal criminal charges related to arms smuggling and other crimes.... The list of violations includes possessing automatic weapons in the United States without registration, lying to federal firearms regulators about weapons provided to the king of Jordan, passing secret plans for armored personnel carriers to Sweden and Denmark without U.S. government approval and illegally shipping body armor overseas.... In a statement issued immediately after the settlement was made public, however, Academi officials denied they admitted any guilt.... A clause in Academi's settlement with prosecutors bars the company from making any public statements 'contradicting any aspect' of the agreement. Any such statement could allow the government to nullify the settlement...." CW: and nobody goes to jail.
The Tennessean: "After two years of struggle, Murfreesboro Muslims will finally be able to hold Friday prayers in their new mosque.... County officials granted the mosque a temporary conditional occupancy permit on Tuesday after the building passed a state fire marshal's inspection. Getting the permit brought an end to two years of controversy over the mosque, which included street protests, a fire, a bomb threat and three lawsuits. Reporters from around the world covered the story...."
ABC News: "Police say they have arrested [Misty Cook,] the former girlfriend of the gunman who allegedly shot and killed six people in a Sikh temple, after authorities found a gun in the home they once shared.... A federal law enforcement official told ABC News that Cook was taken into custody on the grounds that she is prohibited from having a gun as a convicted felon. Cook was charged in 2002 for fleeing and eluding a traffic officer. There's no indication she was involved with the attack."